The Mississippi State Bulldogs opened the 2023 college football season with 2 big wins to kick off the Zach Arnett era. Week 3 would be the real test of how ready this new regime of the Bulldogs as they hosted the No. 14 LSU Tigers.

A win over the Tigers would have put MSU front of the chase for an SEC Championship game appearance. The Bulldogs fell 41-14 in their most lopsided loss since 2013. This win makes it a third consecutive win over the Tigers. There were some good moments from the Bulldogs, but there were plenty of key attributes to change moving forward.

Player of the Week: Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Lideatrick Griffin

There were not many positive aspects in the Bulldogs’ dominating 41-14 loss to the Tigers.

Other than punter Keelan Crimmins, the Bulldogs saw a positive performance from senior wide receiver/kick returner Lideatrick Griffin. Griffin accounted for a team-high 4 receptions for 16 yards with his longest catch was 8 yards. He made a bigger impact in the return game for 102 yards on 3 returns. His reliability as a short-yard receiver and a solid return specialist was enough to give the Bulldogs’ offense a chance to stay in the game.

Freshman of the Week: Punter Keelan Crimmins

The Bulldogs are one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. There are not many freshmen who played and made an impact with the exception of Australia punter Keelan Crimmins.

Crimmins had the busiest day of his collegiate career as he punted the ball 6 times for a combined 264 yards, an average of 44 yards per punt. Two of his punts were able to get inside the 20-yard yard line. His longest punt was 50-yards. Crimmins make hard argument of being the player of the week had he not been punting deep in Bulldogs’ territory and caused the Tigers’ offense to shall as much as the Bulldogs’ offense did.

Biggest surprise: Will Rogers’ incredibly disappointing day

It is not often Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers has an incredibly bad performance. This Saturday’s loss to LSU was one of Rogers’ worst games in his collegiate career. Rogers completed 11-of-28 of his passes for 103 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a QBR of 7.6. His quarterback rating of 70.2 is the second-worst he has ever accounted for in his collegiate career.

His performance in terms of quarterback rating was in the Bulldogs’ 24-2 road loss to Kentucky on October 10, 2020, when he completed 9-of-15 of his passes for 43 yards, 2 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 57.4.

Biggest concern: The coaching of Arnett and his staff

This Mississippi State Bulldogs team was given significant praise for the 2-0 start to the season, including the 31-24 home win over Arizona in Week 2. While the No. 14 LSU Tigers were going to be an incredibly tough matchup for head coach Zach Arnett and his staff, they froze like a deer in the headlights fast. There were rarely adjustments to the Bulldogs to get them back in the game. They came into the game poorly as Arnett got his first loss as a head coach, and it was a stinker.

Developing trend: The development of the run game

The Bulldogs chose to change their offensive identity after the passing of their head coach Mike Leach. Zach Arnett had the difficult decision to change the offense to include a more sufficient run game and veer away from the air raid offense.

Week 3 was the fewest times the Bulldogs have rushed in a single game this season, but they ran the ball 21 times for 94 yards for an average of 4.5 yards per run. In the wins over SE Louisiana and Arizona, the Bulldogs ran the ball 39 times each.

Key stat: 10

The offense is usually the driving force of the Bulldogs to compete in the SEC. The Bulldogs accounted for only 10 first downs against the defense of the Tigers. Mississippi State was 3-of-13 on third-down conversions. It didn’t help the Bulldogs that Rogers felt the pressure constantly from the opposing Tigers throughout the game. Rogers had problems connecting with his receivers and the offense abandoned the run game. This Bulldogs offense is talented enough to drive the ball down the field, but they need to be composed in the passing game.

First impression about Week 4

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-1) find themselves down in the SEC standings after the tough loss to LSU. They will have a chance to rebound as they go on the road for the first time this season in week 4 to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2).

The Gamecocks are a much better team than their record indicates. South Carolina put up a serious fight in the 31-17 loss to No. 17 North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Classic. In Week 3, the Gamecocks gave the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs a huge scare at halftime 14-3 before being outscored 21-0 in the second half.

The Bulldogs’ defense allowed LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to complete 30-of-34 of his passes for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns. South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler could have a huge game at home against the Bulldogs’ defense if Arnett and his staff can’t compose their team after the tough LSU loss.